More crews sent to Copper Country

Great Lakes Conservation Corps personnel assist

More crews from the Superior Watershed Partnership’s Great Lakes Conservation Corps have been sent to help the communities in the Keweenaw Peninsula affected by the June 16-17 flooding. The latest deployment follows GLCC crews heading to the Copper Country within 24 hours of the original storm event. (Photo courtesy of the SWP)

HOUGHTON — Thanks to support from the Keweenaw Community Foundation and other local and regional funding sources, the Superior Watershed Partnership was able to deploy additional crews from the Great Lakes Conservation Corps to assist the flood-ravaged communities of the Keweenaw Peninsula.

Currently, a total of 16 GLCC crew members among four crews are assisting the communities of Houghton, Hancock and Ripley. The SWP deployed the first GLCC crews within 24 hours of the storm event, which took place June 16-17, to help with disaster relief.

“The young men and women of the Great Lakes Conservation Corps mobilized quickly to assist our community in recovery. Their enthusiasm and work ethic has been much needed,” Jim Vivian, executive director of the Keweenaw Community Foundation, said in a news release.

Additional GLCC crew funding was provided by the Michigan Community Service Commission, which has been working with the SWP over the last year to develop a model for a statewide disaster-response corps program.

Emily Leach, SWP program coordinator, stressed the importance of timing.

“A rapid response is critical when providing disaster relief,” Leach said in a news release. “We’re proud that our crews were able to assist the communities of the Keweenaw on such short notice.”

Leach also appreciated the local response.

“Our crews are working side by side with homeowners, and we have received nothing but positive feedback,” she said.

GLCC crews are helping homeowners with debris removal, home cleanup and site stabilization. Crews are equipped with trucks, tools, first aid equipment and camping gear.

The Ottawa National Forest and Partners for Watershed Restoration provided the initial funding to get crews on-site within 24 hours and continue to sponsor GLCC crews in the Houghton area. The SWP and PWR also are committed to assisting with the long-term watershed restoration of the region, including comprehensive stream inventories to evaluate and prioritize future erosion control, habitat restoration and riparian buffer restoration projects.

“This was a historic storm, estimated by some to be a 1,000-year event. The problem is, these sorts of events are becoming more common with a changing climate, “ John Lenters, senior scientist with Lentic Environmental Services and SWP consulting climatologist, said in a news release. “First Duluth, then Ashland, now Houghton makes three historic flooding events in the Lake Superior region in just seven years. These are exactly the types of events that are expected to become more common, but we don’t need to wait for the future. They’re happening now.”